Saturday Songwriting: LaBelle, Lady Marmalade

It was about a week ago I removed my browser from my phone. (It’s an iPhone, so in reality Safari is still hiding in there somewhere).  

What this means in practice, is that instead of reading political news in spare moments when boredom threatens, I read “The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles” by Dominic Pedler. If you’re willing to wade through a bit of music theory jargon, it’s a great book, which, goes through The Beatles catalog principle by principle and song by song, unpacking what’s going on in their music.   

A problem is, it doesn’t seem to be in print any more. (I’m reading it through But maybe your library is cool and has a copy. 

This week we arrive at #485 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Songs list which is “Lady Marmalade” by “LaBelle.”

It’s got amazing groove, and is catchy as all get out. I spent a chunk of Tuesday morning learning the bass line on my acoustic. But the coolest part about it from my perspective is the bridge, that wanders over into E flat major.  That’s the relative major not of the center chord, Gm, but its right neighbor, Cm. That’s a pretty bold move. 

Check it out! 

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Richey Becket’s Art. Find out more about Richey’s work here.

The Musical Idea:

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

Unfamiliar with BEAD Guides Chord Flow?
Here’s an intro: BEAD GCF Intro
Here’s how it works in the Key of C: BEAD Key of C
Here’s how it maps chord substitutes: BEAD Subs

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